In the span of only a few years, conversational systems have become commonplace. Every day, millions of people use natural-language interfaces such as Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Alexa and others via in-home devices, phones, or messaging channels such as Messenger, Slack, Skype, among others. At the same time, interest among the research community in conversational systems has blossomed: for supervised and reinforcement learning, conversational systems often serve as both a benchmark task and an inspiration for new ML methods at conferences which don't focus on speech and language per se, such as NIPS, ICML, IJCAI, and others. Research community challenge tasks are proliferating, including the seventh Dialog Systems Technology Challenge (DSTC7), the Amazon Alexa prize, and the Conversational Intelligence Challenge live competitions at NIPS (2017, 2018).
Following the overwhelming participation in our last year NIPS workshop (9 invited talks, 26 submissions, 3 orals papers, 13 accepted papers, 37 PC members, and couple of hundreds of participants), we are excited to continue promoting cross-pollination of ideas between academic research centers and industry. The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners in this area, to clarify impactful research problems, share findings from large-scale real-world deployments, and generate new ideas for future lines of research.
This workshop will include invited talks from academia and industry, contributed work, and open discussion. In these talks, senior technical leaders from many of the most popular conversational services will give insights into real usage and challenges at scale. An open call for papers will be issued, and we will prioritize forward-looking papers that propose interesting and impactful contributions. We will end the day with an open discussion, including a panel consisting of academic and industrial researchers.